Ch. 9 Yoga of the Relationship between Brahman and the World (Part 1)

This article is part 63 of 119 in the series Jīvana-dharma-yoga


sarvagatamirdum ātmaṃ
nirvikṛtaṃ sarvaśaktam adu niṣkarmam ।
nirvairaṃ sarvasamaṃ
nirvṛtidaṃ patrasumajalārpakariṃgam ॥

The ātmā, though all-pervading,
is immutable, and though omnipotent, is actionless.
It is without a rival, and is the same everywhere.
It yields supreme bliss to even those offering a leaf, a flower or water.


The objects of the world function because of Brahma. Because of this, we confuse those objects for Brahma. We worship the glamour of the world while in fact, it is Brahma that should be worshipped. This is a mistake indeed. One should always remember that the world is a modification of Brahma-consciousness and that Brahma is beyond all the objects of the world.

Bhagavān assures us that he will take up the responsibility of the entire well-being of whoever is completely dependent on him. What more assurance does one need?

Bhagavān has affirmed that all devotion with śraddhā reaches him and that he is propitious to those devoted to him. If all worldly actions such as taking in food and giving dāna are performed as offerings to ŚrīKṛsṇa, the jīva attains the Supreme Goal. We see the heart of the Gītā-teaching in this chapter.

Chapter 9 Rāja-vidyā-rāja-guhya-yoga or Brahma-jagat-sambandha-yoga

(The Yoga of the Relationship between Brahman and the World)

In the previous chapter, after considering seven or eight questions such as “kiṃ tadbrahma” (What is Brahman?), “adhibhūtam kim?” (What is adhibhūta) and what a prāṇī (being) is, Bhagavān taught that OM (praṇava), which denotes the entire collection of Jagat (world), Jīva and Iśvara, has to be mentally meditated upon. Now will be elucidated the relationship between Brahma and Prakṛti - which is also the relationship between Īśvara and the world.

This chapter covers the following topics:

  1. The omnipresence of Brahma
  2. The subservience of the world to Prakṛti
  3. The two-fold nature of Prakṛti
  4. The attainability of Iśvara
  5. The worldly aspect of Dharma
  6. Surrender to Bhagavān

idaṁ tu te guhyatamaṁ pravakṣyāmy-anasūyave |
jñānaṁ vijñāna-sahitaṁ yaj-jñātvā mokṣyase’śubhāt ||

BG 9.1

The chapter begins with the above verse. The topic that Bhagavān is about to tell us is the greatest secret! A mystery! What is that secret? A marketing trick or a profit-minded manoeuvre or a scheme for greater fame? This strategy is not for any worldly attainment but pertains only to the ātmā. Therefore, only the eligible will be instructed here. If the ineligible are instructed in this matter, there is a chance of misunderstanding or misuse or trivialisation - all of which is harmful to the world. This verse thus is an exhortation to share this secret only after considering the student’s worthiness.

Don't think of this secret as Brāhmaṇa obscurantism. It is well known that our government limits the sales of drugs that are mixed with mercury, sulphur, lead or mandate a prescription for those medicines that can have significant side-effects upon accidental consumption. Such medicines or prescription drugs carry labels with warnings like ‘poison’ or ‘for prescription use only’ or ‘overdose can cause injury.’ On the other hand, home remedies such as ginger, pepper, and cumin can be used as medicine by almost anyone. Even a healthy person is not adversely affected by their consumption. However, those medicines explicitly labelled are meant only for patients and not for general consumption. It is dangerous for others to consume such drugs. Therefore the pharmacist is legally bound to sell such drugs only when accompanied by a prescription and only to those for whom the drug has been prescribed.

Similar is the rule regarding the teaching of the Vedas, śāstras, and the Gītā. They have to be imparted only after due discernment about the fitness of the taught. These are not like commercial goods that are sold to the general public. These words of Matthew Arnold are worth remembering here –

Some secrets may the poet tell,
For the world loves new ways;
To tell too deep ones is not well—
It knows not what he says.

Moreover, this is “jñānaṁ vijñānasahitam” (knowledge with realisation) – which is essentially experiential and not bookish learning. The theoretical understanding gained through external sources of knowledge such as teachers and śāstras is denoted as jñāna. To this should be added vijñāna – the experiential realisation of jñāna through vichāra. Vichāra is the analysis of experience; a practical application of theory. Bhagavān is now all set to teach the principle that is in agreement with both theory and experience.

This instruction is deemed ‘Rāja-vidyā’ (the Royal Science) which means that it is the king of all vidyās. Just as the King’s power enables all his subjects employed in different posts to enjoy proportionate benefits during the discharge of their duties, this rāja-vidyā enables assignment of the right values and positions of other vidyās. Thus this knowledge of reality ought to be at the head of all other vidyās.

rāja-vidyā rāja-guhyaṁ pavitram-idam-uttamam |
pratyakṣāvagamaṁ dharmyaṁ susukhaṁ kartum-avyayam ||

BG 9.2

Rāja-vidyā is also fittingly called Rāja-yoga as it can be known through direct experience, is consistent with dharma, is easily performed, does not cause harm, is imperishable, and is easy to perform. Haṭha-yoga has opposite characteristics to Rāja-yoga. While Haṭha-yoga is a teacher that brings the fear of punishment to students, Rāja-yoga is a gentle and tactful teacher.

What then is the gist of this charming vidyā?

mayā tatam-idaṁ sarvaṁ jagad-avyakta-mūrtinā |
mat-sthāni sarva-bhūtāni na cāhaṁ teṣv-avasthitaḥ ||

BG 9.4

na ca mat-sthāni bhūtāni paśya me yogam-aiśvaram |
bhūtabhṛn-na ca bhūtastho mamātmā bhūta-bhāvanaḥ ||

BG 9.5

(Mayā) By me (Brahma), (avyaktamūrtinā) who has no external characteristics such as form and quality, (jagat idam sarvam) all this world (tatam) is pervaded.
(Through one perspective) all beings reside in me, I am not in them.
(Another perspective) The world’s beings really do not reside in me. See my (Brahma’s) divine and wondrous yoga in the aspect of Īśvara. It is Brahma-consciousness that is the origin and sustenance of this multitude of beings. But Brahma itself is not in them.

This is a complicated statement. It needs to be patiently reflected upon.

The inquiry here is about existence. In Samskṛtam, existence is known as astitva. The same is sat + (sattā) or sattva. The subject of existence, termed ontology, is an important aspect of Western philosophy. What are some questions about existence?

  1. A certain thing might exist and still not be perceived by anyone.
  2. Even if it is perceived, it might be perceived as something else.
  3. Even if it exists, it might be attached to something else like a shadow.
  4. It might be something that only the mind perceives but not the eye.
  5. It might exist during one moment and not exist in the next.

Many doubts can thus arise about existence. Does our world really exist? Or is it merely an appearance? Is not appearance a level of existence? Should not an appearance have some kind of substratum? What might that be? Such are the questions.

Independent existence (svatantra-sattā) is something that exists without requiring anything else to exist as a substratum or for protection. It existed before, exists now, and will continue to exist later. It cannot be repudiated, modified, or destroyed in any place or time. Such is the existence of Brahma; completely independent.

When a thing’s existence requires something else to be present, the thing is said to have a dependent existence (adhīna-sattā). The reflection in a mirror is an example. An object's reflection is seen as long as the object stays in front of the mirror and disappears when the object is moved. We have already come across the illustration of the glass and the red rose. As long as the rose is near the glass, the glass appears red. No red glass without the red rose. Shadows too are in this category. They require another solid body for them to be seen. The shadow is a projection of the object. Brahma is existence itself, while the world is an appearance. The shadow is seen as long as the object is present. Once the object is gone, the shadow goes as well. But the object itself is not a shadow. It has an independent existence while the shadow has a dependent existence. Brahma has an independent existence; the world is like its shadow and hence has a dependent existence. Let us return to the treatise keeping this in mind.

To be continued...

The present series is a modern English translation of DVG’s Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award-winning work, Bhagavad-gītā-tātparya or Jīvana-dharma-yoga. The translators wish to express their thanks to Śatāvadhāni R Ganesh for his valuable feedback and to Hari Ravikumar for his astute edits.



Devanahalli Venkataramanayya Gundappa (1887-1975) was a great visionary and polymath. He was a journalist, poet, art connoisseur, philosopher, political analyst, institution builder, social commentator, social worker, and activist.



Engineer. Lapsed blogger. Abiding interest in Sanskrit, religion, and philosophy. A wannabe jack-of-all.


Mother of two. Engineer. Worshiper of Indian music, poetry, and art.

Prekshaa Publications

Indian Perspective of Truth and Beauty in Homer’s Epics is a unique work on the comparative study of the Greek Epics Iliad and Odyssey with the Indian Epics – Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata. Homer, who laid the foundations for the classical tradition of the West, occupies a stature similar to that occupied by the seer-poets Vālmīki and Vyāsa, who are synonymous with the Indian culture. The author...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the sixth volume of reminiscences character sketches of prominent public figures, liberals, and social workers. These remarkable personages hailing from different corners of South India are from a period that spans from the late nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. Written in Kannada in the 1970s, these memoirs go...

An Introduction to Hinduism based on Primary Sources

Authors: Śatāvadhānī Dr. R Ganesh, Hari Ravikumar

What is the philosophical basis for Sanātana-dharma, the ancient Indian way of life? What makes it the most inclusive and natural of all religio-philosophical systems in the world?

The Essential Sanātana-dharma serves as a handbook for anyone who wishes to grasp the...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the fifth volume, episodes from the lives of traditional savants responsible for upholding the Vedic culture. These memorable characters lived a life of opulence amidst poverty— theirs  was the wealth of the soul, far beyond money and gold. These vidvāns hailed from different corners of the erstwhile Mysore Kingdom and lived in...

Padma Bhushan Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam represents the quintessence of Sage Bharata’s art and Bhārata, the country that gave birth to the peerless seer of the Nāṭya-veda. Padma’s erudition in various streams of Indic knowledge, mastery over many classical arts, deep understanding of the nuances of Indian culture, creative genius, and sublime vision bolstered by the vedāntic and nationalistic...

Bhārata has been a land of plenty in many ways. We have had a timeless tradition of the twofold principle of Brāhma (spirit of wisdom) and Kṣāttra (spirit of valour) nourishing and protecting this sacred land. The Hindu civilisation, rooted in Sanātana-dharma, has constantly been enriched by brāhma and safeguarded by kṣāttra.
The renowned Sanskrit poet and scholar, Śatāvadhānī Dr. R...

ಛಂದೋವಿವೇಕವು ವರ್ಣವೃತ್ತ, ಮಾತ್ರಾಜಾತಿ ಮತ್ತು ಕರ್ಷಣಜಾತಿ ಎಂದು ವಿಭಕ್ತವಾದ ಎಲ್ಲ ಬಗೆಯ ಛಂದಸ್ಸುಗಳನ್ನೂ ವಿವೇಚಿಸುವ ಪ್ರಬಂಧಗಳ ಸಂಕಲನ. ಲೇಖಕರ ದೀರ್ಘಕಾಲಿಕ ಆಲೋಚನೆಯ ಸಾರವನ್ನು ಒಳಗೊಂಡ ಈ ಹೊತ್ತಗೆ ಪ್ರಧಾನವಾಗಿ ಛಂದಸ್ಸಿನ ಸೌಂದರ್ಯವನ್ನು ಲಕ್ಷಿಸುತ್ತದೆ. ತೌಲನಿಕ ವಿಶ್ಲೇಷಣೆ ಮತ್ತು ಅಂತಃಶಾಸ್ತ್ರೀಯ ಅಧ್ಯಯನಗಳ ತೆಕ್ಕೆಗೆ ಬರುವ ಬರೆಹಗಳೂ ಇಲ್ಲಿವೆ. ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಕಾರನಿಗಲ್ಲದೆ ಸಿದ್ಧಹಸ್ತನಾದ ಕವಿಗೆ ಮಾತ್ರ ಸ್ಫುರಿಸಬಲ್ಲ ಎಷ್ಟೋ ಹೊಳಹುಗಳು ಕೃತಿಯ ಮೌಲಿಕತೆಯನ್ನು ಹೆಚ್ಚಿಸಿವೆ. ಈ...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the fourth volume, some character sketches of the Dewans of Mysore preceded by an account of the political framework of the State before Independence and followed by a review of the political conditions of the State after 1940. These remarkable leaders of Mysore lived in a period that spans from the mid-nineteenth century to the...

Bharatiya Kavya-mimamseya Hinnele is a monograph on Indian Aesthetics by Mahamahopadhyaya N. Ranganatha Sharma. The book discusses the history and significance of concepts pivotal to Indian literary theory. It is equally useful to the learned and the laity.

Sahitya-samhite is a collection of literary essays in Kannada. The book discusses aestheticians such as Ananda-vardhana and Rajashekhara; Sanskrit scholars such as Mena Ramakrishna Bhat, Sridhar Bhaskar Varnekar and K S Arjunwadkar; and Kannada litterateurs such as DVG, S L Bhyrappa and S R Ramaswamy. It has a foreword by Shatavadhani Dr. R Ganesh.

The Mahābhārata is the greatest epic in the world both in magnitude and profundity. A veritable cultural compendium of Bhārata-varṣa, it is a product of the creative genius of Maharṣi Kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyana Vyāsa. The epic captures the experiential wisdom of our civilization and all subsequent literary, artistic, and philosophical creations are indebted to it. To read the Mahābhārata is to...

Shiva Rama Krishna

சிவன். ராமன். கிருஷ்ணன்.
இந்திய பாரம்பரியத்தின் முப்பெரும் கதாநாயகர்கள்.
உயர் இந்தியாவில் தலைமுறைகள் பல கடந்தும் கடவுளர்களாக போற்றப்பட்டு வழிகாட்டிகளாக விளங்குபவர்கள்.
மனித ஒற்றுமை நூற்றாண்டுகால பரிணாம வளர்ச்சியின் பரிமாணம்.
தனிநபர்களாகவும், குடும்ப உறுப்பினர்களாகவும், சமுதாய பிரஜைகளாகவும் நாம் அனைவரும் பரிமளிக்கிறோம்.
சிவன் தனிமனித அடையாளமாக அமைகிறான்....

ऋतुभिः सह कवयः सदैव सम्बद्धाः। विशिष्य संस्कृतकवयः। यथा हि ऋतवः प्रतिसंवत्सरं प्रतिनवतामावहन्ति मानवेषु तथैव ऋतुवर्णनान्यपि काव्यरसिकेषु कामपि विच्छित्तिमातन्वते। ऋतुकल्याणं हि सत्यमिदमेव हृदि कृत्वा प्रवृत्तम्। नगरजीवनस्य यान्त्रिकतां मान्त्रिकतां च ध्वनदिदं चम्पूकाव्यं गद्यपद्यमिश्रितमिति सुव्यक्तमेव। ऐदम्पूर्वतया प्रायः पुरीपरिसरप्रसृतानाम् ऋतूनां विलासोऽत्र प्रपञ्चितः। बेङ्गलूरुनामके...

The Art and Science of Avadhānam in Sanskrit is a definitive work on Sāhityāvadhānam, a form of Indian classical art based on multitasking, lateral thinking, and extempore versification. Dotted throughout with tasteful examples, it expounds in great detail on the theory and practice of this unique performing art. It is as much a handbook of performance as it is an anthology of well-turned...

This anthology is a revised edition of the author's 1978 classic. This series of essays, containing his original research in various fields, throws light on the socio-cultural landscape of Tamil Nadu spanning several centuries. These compelling episodes will appeal to scholars and laymen alike.
“When superstitious mediaevalists mislead the country about its judicial past, we have to...

The cultural history of a nation, unlike the customary mainstream history, has a larger time-frame and encompasses the timeless ethos of a society undergirding the course of events and vicissitudes. A major key to the understanding of a society’s unique character is an appreciation of the far-reaching contributions by outstanding personalities of certain periods – especially in the realms of...

Prekṣaṇīyam is an anthology of essays on Indian classical dance and theatre authored by multifaceted scholar and creative genius, Śatāvadhānī Dr. R Ganesh. As a master of śāstra, a performing artiste (of the ancient art of Avadhānam), and a cultured rasika, he brings a unique, holistic perspective to every discussion. These essays deal with the philosophy, history, aesthetics, and practice of...


इदं किञ्चिद्यामलं काव्यं द्वयोः खण्डकाव्ययोः सङ्कलनरूपम्। रामानुरागानलं हि सीतापरित्यागाल्लक्ष्मणवियोगाच्च श्रीरामेणानुभूतं हृदयसङ्क्षोभं वर्णयति । वात्सल्यगोपालकं तु कदाचिद्भानूपरागसमये घटितं यशोदाश्रीकृष्णयोर्मेलनं वर्णयति । इदम्प्रथमतया संस्कृतसाहित्ये सम्पूर्णं काव्यं...


इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।


इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।


इयं रचना दशसु रूपकेष्वन्यतमस्य भाणस्य निदर्शनतामुपैति। एकाङ्करूपकेऽस्मिन् शेखरकनामा चित्रोद्यमलेखकः केनापि हेतुना वियोगम् अनुभवतोश्चित्रलेखामिलिन्दकयोः समागमं सिसाधयिषुः कथामाकाशभाषणरूपेण निर्वहति।


अस्मिन् स्तोत्रकाव्ये भगवन्तं शिवं कविरभिष्टौति। वसन्ततिलकयोपनिबद्धस्य काव्यस्यास्य कविकृतम् उल्लाघनाभिधं व्याख्यानं च वर्तते।

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the third volume, some character sketches of great literary savants responsible for Kannada renaissance during the first half of the twentieth century. These remarkable...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the second volume, episodes from the lives of remarkable exponents of classical music and dance, traditional storytellers, thespians, and connoisseurs; as well as his...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the first volume, episodes from the lives of great writers, poets, literary aficionados, exemplars of public life, literary scholars, noble-hearted common folk, advocates...

Evolution of Mahabharata and Other Writings on the Epic is the English translation of S R Ramaswamy's 1972 Kannada classic 'Mahabharatada Belavanige' along with seven of his essays on the great epic. It tells the riveting...

Shiva-Rama-Krishna is an English adaptation of Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh's popular lecture series on the three great...


ಮಹಾಮಾಹೇಶ್ವರ ಅಭಿನವಗುಪ್ತ ಜಗತ್ತಿನ ವಿದ್ಯಾವಲಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಮರೆಯಲಾಗದ ಹೆಸರು. ಮುಖ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಶೈವದರ್ಶನ ಮತ್ತು ಸೌಂದರ್ಯಮೀಮಾಂಸೆಗಳ ಪರಮಾಚಾರ್ಯನಾಗಿ  ಸಾವಿರ ವರ್ಷಗಳಿಂದ ಇವನು ಜ್ಞಾನಪ್ರಪಂಚವನ್ನು ಪ್ರಭಾವಿಸುತ್ತಲೇ ಇದ್ದಾನೆ. ಭರತಮುನಿಯ ನಾಟ್ಯಶಾಸ್ತ್ರವನ್ನು ಅರ್ಥಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಇವನೊಬ್ಬನೇ ನಮಗಿರುವ ಆಲಂಬನ. ಇದೇ ರೀತಿ ರಸಧ್ವನಿಸಿದ್ಧಾಂತವನ್ನು...


“वागर्थविस्मयास्वादः” प्रमुखतया साहित्यशास्त्रतत्त्वानि विमृशति । अत्र सौन्दर्यर्यशास्त्रीयमूलतत्त्वानि यथा रस-ध्वनि-वक्रता-औचित्यादीनि सुनिपुणं परामृष्टानि प्रतिनवे चिकित्सकप्रज्ञाप्रकाशे। तदन्तर एव संस्कृतवाङ्मयस्य सामर्थ्यसमाविष्कारोऽपि विहितः। क्वचिदिव च्छन्दोमीमांसा च...

The Best of Hiriyanna

The Best of Hiriyanna is a collection of forty-eight essays by Prof. M. Hiriyanna that sheds new light on Sanskrit Literature, Indian...

Stories Behind Verses

Stories Behind Verses is a remarkable collection of over a hundred anecdotes, each of which captures a story behind the composition of a Sanskrit verse. Collected over several years from...